Senate approves Jones’ voluntary car interlock bill

Sen. Rick Jones

Sen. Rick Jones

LANSING, Mich. — Michigan parents would be allowed to install a breath alcohol interlock device on their car without it sending reports to the secretary of state under legislation sponsored by Sen. Rick Jones and unanimously approved Tuesday by the state Senate.

“For decades, the combination of inexperienced young drivers and underage drinking has been a source of severe anxiety for many parents,” said Jones, R-Grand Ledge. “Technology now exists that can help reduce that fear. This legislation would enable parents to install an ignition interlock device on their car to help prevent drinking and driving.”

In Michigan, if a restricted license is ordered for a habitual drunk driving offender, the person must install a Breath Alcohol Ignition Interlock Device (BAIID) on any vehicle he or she owns or intends to operate. A BAIID is a breath alcohol analyzer that connects with a vehicle’s ignition and other control systems. The BAIID measures the driver’s bodily alcohol content (BAC) and keeps the vehicle from starting if the BAC is 0.025 or higher.

Currently, Michigan drivers are allowed to have an interlock device installed on their vehicle voluntarily. However, even if the interlock device is installed voluntarily, the company that provides the interlock is required to generate a report when the device is used and send that report to the secretary of state.

“I have heard from many parents of young drivers who would like to voluntarily install a breath alcohol interlock device on their family car, but do not want the government involved,” Jones said. “Michigan parents should be able to use current technology to stop their children from making a life-changing mistake while still maintaining a reasonable level of privacy.”

Senate Bill 892 would allow interlock providers to develop, market and sell a SOBER (Startup Operated Breath Engine Restrictor) device in Michigan. The provider of the SOBER device would not be required to transmit a report to the secretary of state when the device is used.

To avoid confusion of law enforcement, the new device would be similar in function to a BAIID, but would be visually different from a state-ordered device.